A Sweetener That's The Bee's Knees
Reader's Digest India|June, 2019
A Sweetener That's The Bee's Knees

ONE FINE DAY, thankfully once the flowers begin to open, a bee hovers and zips through your balcony and dive-bombs your breakfast table. While you’re thinking about avoiding a sting, that bee is focused on something else entirely: me.

Kate Lowenstein and Daniel Gritzer

A honeybee has about six weeks to live. Today, like most days, her task is to fly as many as five kilometres from home, stick her long, strawlike tongue into a hundred or so flowers, slurp up tiny droplets of sweet, watery nectar and store it in a stomach-like organ called a honey sac. When the bee has had her fill, she’ll fly home, her special enzyme-filled belly already breaking the nectar down into glucose and fructose. So begins the minor miracle of nature that leads to me.

Once at the hive, the bee will deposit her haul into the mouth of one of her co-workers, who will relay it to another, and so on for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is ready to be placed into the beautifully geometric comb. Then she and her 50,000 or so hive mates will hover and buzz in the dark all night, every night, flapping their wings to create the hot, breezy conditions needed to dehydrate the watery mixture. Several sunrises later, they will seal me off in a golden cell of beeswax, my slowflowing, viscous, 18-per-cent water solution now irrevocably complete.


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June, 2019